Eating from Bantry

As always lunch on Friday was from Bantry market.

At first it had felt warmer in the morning but then the wind had caught up and there was no sun to soften the chill. In the car on the way down to Durrus we were insulated from the cold and the sea was blue and looked almost inviting.

In Bantry the stalls were grouped up at the top end of Wolfe Tone Square but that did not spare them and the wind whipped at the canvas and the people curled their heads down to keep warm.

I panicked for a moment that the fish stall was not at its usual place but it was over the other side of the pavement and there were piles of whiting, cod, haddock and hake E5.00 a bag and monkfish tails and mussels. Three men worked the stall, one at the front with a set of scales and the raw fish and two at the back with sharp knives, pulling the fish from the ice in their crates and skinning and filleting them to go in the bags. They were all dressed against the cold and they went about their business quietly without chat in the raw wind.

Wally was on the olive stall and despite the bet we had made last summer he did not remember my name. The olive oil in the bottles was cloudy and stiff from the cold and it felt out of place buying from there in the cold. It needed some sun to bring out its colours.

At the Gubbeen stall I stocked up on bacon to take home with me, a combination of maple cure and smoked streaky and some smoked cheese to take back with me.

I also bought the ingredients for supper: two small monkfish tails and a bag of mussels, some smoked salmon and smoked sun dried tomatoes, all to be had with pasta.

Before the main course we had scallops with bacon. Five juicy scallops cut in half and a rasher of bacon. I cut the bacon into small strips and fried it until it started to give off its fat. I then added the scallops and cooked them on a high heat until they had just started to brown. I quickly seasoned them with salt and pepper and a drop of wine before serving them with some finely chopped parsley. Unfortunately Galen likes them now so there was less for me.

In the meantime I had cooked the mussels in white wine and garlic, drained them, reserving the juices and pulled each of them from its shell. In the same pan I had cooked the scallops I heated some olive oil, when hot I tipped in the monkfish tails which I had chopped so they were about an inch across, as they started to firm I added the mussels and their juices. Just before the pasta was cooked I added the smoked tomatoes and salmon which I had roughly chopped. As I stirred the sauce into the pasta I mixed in some chopped feta cheese.

It all got eaten.

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